Ancient Rome exercises a powerful grip on the imagination of modern man. It was a sophisticated and powerful civilization, which has had a profound influence on all later Western societies.
Timeline and Overview
Timeline of Roman history:
117 - the Roman Empire reaches its largest extent
312 - the conversion of the emperor Constantine to Christianity
410 - Rome is sacked by the Goths
476 - the last Roman emperor in the West is deposed
(For more detailed timelines, see the timelines for the Roman Republic and the Roman Empire.)
The city of Rome is located in central Italy, but the empire it came to rule covered the entire Mediterranean basin, together with much of western Europe. At its greatest extent in stretched from present-day northern England to southern Egypt, and from the Atlantic coast to the shores of the Persian Gulf.
Rome’s location in central Italy placed it squarely within the Mediterranean cluster of civilizations. The most famous of these was that of the Ancient Greeks, but others included those of the Phoenicians, the Carthaginians and the Etruscans, plus several lesser-known peoples such as the Lycians.
In its early centuries Rome was particularly influenced by the powerful Etruscan civilization to its north, from which it acquired many aspects of its culture. As Rome’s reach expanded, it came into direct contact with the Greeks. From then on Greek influence would become an increasingly important element within Roman life. However, the Romans would give Greek culture their own slant, giving it a new grandeur which can be seen in Roman remains throughout the empire.